County Express

Vol. 1, No. 50 ] SATURDAY, 14th.., DECEMBER, 1867 [ Price 1d.


The adjourned inquest touching the death of Charles Rowland Nixon, carver, guilder, and picture dealer, was held on Tuesday morning at the White Horse Inn, Great Colmore Street, before Dr.Birt Davies, Borough Coroner. The deceased, who was 53 years of age, was fatally injured in the railway accident which occurred on the line between Dudley Port and Dudley on Saturday morning, November 16. Mr.C.Beaton attended on behalf of the relatives of the deceased; Mr.Whateley appeared for the Great Western Railway Company, and Mr.R.F.Roberts appeared for the London and North-Western Railway Company.

The first witness called John Banks, who stated that he was foreman to Thomas Morgan, the driver of the engine. He accompanied him on the day of the occurrence. They stopped at Sedgley Junction, and shunted off seven waggons, which were taken on to the loop-line by Morgans engine, and while this was being done witness noticed that the waggons left on the line were slowly moving down the incline. On arriving at the junction they had to set back a little, but they had come to a dead stop before the seven waggons were unhooked.

William Aston said he was a bank rider on the train in question, and soon after arriving at Sedgley Junction he heard Isaac Smith blow his whistle, and witness saw the waggons on the main-line running back. Witness put a sprag into one of the wheels and put on nine of the breaks. The train was then nearly at a standstill, and while witness was putting on more breaks the Great Western train came up and the collision occurred. There were breaks on every waggon, but some of the blocks were very much worn. The engine break and the guard's break had always been sufficient to stop the train.

William James Davenport, said he was guard of the train in question, and Morgan was the engine driver. A number of carriages were added to the train at Great Bridge, and a second engine was put on. They went safely to Sedgley Junction. The leading engine went too far beyond the points, and witness gave usual signal by holding up both hands. The train came to a dead stand, and finding couplings were too tight, the waggon couplings were slackened. In coming down the hill they relied first upon the engine power to enable them to stop, and then upon the break power, and then upon the sprags. He did not know what the running back was owing to, but he did not think it was owing to a lack of steam power; and if there had been breaks and sprags enough it could have been stopped. He should consider his own break-van and nine or ten waggon breaks sufficient to hold the train. The train was about an hour behind on leaving Great Bridge. The witness did not know whose duty it was to attend to the loop points, but he found no one there at all, and he held the points himself. The driver stopped before all the sidings, and witness asked what was the matter, and Morgan directed his attention to the collision which had taken place. It was the duty of the pointsman at the junction to tell them whether any train was due. The Great Western train was not due for four or five minutes, and if the driver had not gone beyond the points it would not have taken five minutes to shunt and get on again.

Patrick Morgan, signalman in charge of the signal box at Dudley Port, lower level, said the mineral train in question passed him about 7 44, and the Great Western passenger train passed about eight or nine minutes afterwards. He signalled "all right" to them both. He did not give that signal to the last train till he saw that the mineral train was under the protection of the Sedgley Junction signal.

George Lipacombe, a signalman, living in Park Lane, said he was stationed at Sedgley Junction. A goods and mineral train arrived at his box at 7 48 on the morning of the 16th. November, and after giving the usual signals the driver of the engine stopped in front of the box. He said he stopped because the guard signalled to him to do so. He then set back about 120 yards, having gone the length of two waggons too far, and the guard then divided the train, and signalled to the leading engine to go on again with seven loaded waggons, and place them on the loop line. As they passed the box again, witness called to Morgan the driver, "Your trains running back, and the Great Western train is due", and in about two minutes after that the accident occurred. The distance signal, immediately they passed it, was put on "danger". The danger signals were always kept up, and were lowered only to allow a train to pass.

In reply to a Juror, witness said he could not telegraph to Dudley Port, so as to stop anything. Witness did not consider it necessary to set back so far as 120 yards, but he could not stop. He never before saw any appearance of a train breaking away.

This concluded the evidence, and the Coroner in summing up observed that if they saw good grounds for blaming any person to the extent that he neglected the usual and necessary care then that person unquestionably came under the category of the crime of manslaughter, but he thought they would hesitate a long time before they expressed any such opinion. Indeed, in such a case he should think it his duty to ask them to point out what part of the evidence they considered justified such a conclusion. Neither did he see any ground for calling upon them to make any observations of censure or regret, for such observations were not to be made unless there was a clear departure from the rules of ordinary care.

The jury after a short deliberation, returned a verdict of "Accidental death".

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